Local Housing Allowance

Under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules, benefit is paid directly to the tenant, not to the landlord. It is up to the tenant to make sure that the rent is paid to the landlord. This means that if the rent is higher than the LHA rate, the tenant will have to make up the difference.

Paying Housing Benefit

You will receive your Housing Benefit every two weeks in arrears. It will be paid directly into your bank or building society account, if you have one. We cannot pay benefits into post office accounts.

If you do not already have a bank or building society account, you may want to open one. This means you can arrange to pay the rent to your landlord automatically. For more information, see Citizens Advice Bureau.

Payments direct to landlord

Housing Benefit is usually paid to you. You cannot choose to have your benefit paid direct to your landlord. However, we can pay benefit to your landlord if we decide that you are likely to have difficulty paying your rent.

We can also consider making payments direct to the landlord if it will assist you in securing or retaining a tenancy.

If we do decide to pay benefit to your landlord, we will write to them for further information.

If we pay your landlord, they will receive Housing Benefit every four weeks in arrears.

New claims

If you are making a new claim and would like us to consider paying benefit directly to your landlord you must complete the relevant section on the online form by providing us with as much information and evidence as possible in order for us to make the decision.

If your claim is already in payment you will need to write to us with supporting evidence and explain why you want us to consider paying your landlord.

Changes in your circumstances

Once you are in receipt of Housing Benefit, the relevant LHA rate used in the calculation will continue until the next annual review.

However, we must review it sooner if you have a change in circumstances due to:

  • A relevant change in your rent
  • A change in the number of bedrooms you are entitled to (for example, someone moves out of your home)
  • A member of your household dies
  • You move to another address

If you pay rent to a private landlord we will work out your Housing Benefit using a maximum rent set by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).  This means that we do not always use the actual weekly rent you pay to work out your Housing Benefit.  We will only use up to the LHA rate to work out your benefit, even if your actual rent is higher, so it is important that you find out the LHA rate that will apply to you before deciding whether to rent a property.

LHA rates

LHA rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency.  They were set in April 2012 and are usually increased each April by a percentage set by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Government.  However, in 2016 the Government confirmed that the LHA rates will generally be frozen at their April 2015 levels, for four years from April 2016 until March 2020.

The LHA rate is a standard rate from a range of rents for properties of a given size in an area known as the Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA).

Wandsworth is covered by two BRMAs, Inner South West London and Outer South West London.

Work out the LHA rate that applies to you

The LHA rate that you are entitled to depends on the size of your household and the area that you live in.

The LHA bedroom calculator will help you to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to and the room rate applicable to you. Select the circumstances which describe you and your family.  Add your post code to find out which BRMA your property is in and the rate of LHA that applies.

Current LHA rates for Wandsworth

Property size Weekly rate
From April 2019
London Inner SW
Weekly rate
From April 2019
London Outer SW

Shared accommodation

£100.13

£92.78

1 bedroom

£261.43

£222.54

2 bedroom

£320.74

£280.60

3 bedroom

£376.04

£336.96

4 bedroom

£442.42

£429.53

There are some other important rules to bear in mind when working out which LHA rate applies to you:

  • If you are single or if you and your partner occupy one room with shared facilities such as living room and kitchen, you will receive a shared accommodation rate.
  • The maximum LHA rate is for four rooms.
  • Single joint tenants with no dependents or non dependents qualify for the shared accommodation LHA rate.
  • A joint tenant with children will qualify for the LHA rate which applies to them given their household circumstances.
  • If you are single with no dependents and under 35, you will receive a shared accommodation rate even if you do not have shared facilities. (You may be exempt from this if you have previously resided in a hostel for more than three months or are an ex-offender under Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).

Additional bedroom allowance for carers, foster parents and armed forces

The benefit regulations allow us to include an extra bedroom in the size criteria for tenants in the private sector under certain circumstances.

Further information on the additional bedroom allowance.